New Jazz Underground @ Club 199
4:00pm, Sun 18 Mar 2007
It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon, and there’s events all over the city – North Adelaide has their Food & Wine Fair (always a people magnet), and there’s the Fringe Family Day. So the fact that there’s only a dozen or so people gathered for a bit of jazz & spoken word is no real surprise; the sad jolt came later when I realised that, of the people I spied when I walked in, five of them were performing.
Shit. That makes me sad. Performers coming over from Melbourne for a single gig (well, Henry Manetta and The Trip had an earlier jazz show), and they only get half-a-dozen punters in. Oh well. Of course, after I sit down I realise I’m in Critic’s Corner, and wind up chatting with lovely ladies reviewing for two of Adelaide’s street mags.
Henry Manetta and The Trip open proceedings with some gentle jazz before Manetta performs a little solo scat singing; he’s great, alternately edgy and fabulously booming when required. The rest of The Trip were awesome, too, especially Ron Romero on sax. Matt Hetherington opens up the spoken word portion of proceedings, and I was initially unimpressed with the contrived rhymes in his first (of many) Love Poem; he hits his stride later with Some of Us, the gigglingly good Words I’ll Never Use In A Love Poem, and his choice of Ginsberg to close was solid. He also dropped the word “infinitude” into a poem, which earned big props from me.
Matt also played drums (bongos?) whilst Angela Cook read her piece Fucking, lending the performance the type of feel I always imagined the Beat Generation enjoyed. Angela was an ace performer – with a sparkle in her eye and a shy & knowing smile, her consonants linger and lead us gently through her lust. Fabulous.
Manetta and The Trip play a bit more either side of a break, kicking some solid grunt in at some point. Professional Lush almost trips over itself with its many distinct styles and solos, with Manetta lolling about the stage like a tripped-out skeleton. The sounds are great, and it’s entertaining to watch.
After the break, Helen Milte-Bastow takes to the stage – and she is awesome, though sadly her soft voice is a little overwhelmed by her backing music. But her words are great – vivid imagery, pop-culture references ahoy, and just plain beautiful. Kris Allison joins her onstage for the fabulous SMS Love Poem, before continuing with his own work – and he, too, rules the stage. Rambling yet tight, urban and insightful, one line etched itself into my skull – “You want to reach me, but I’m too universal”. Magic.
Hetherington returns to the stage to read some work by (the absent) Tom Joyce, accompanied by more Manetta scatting. The Trip come on for a great closer, with keyboardist Adam Rudegeair fronting up for some jazzy rap. And we’re done; I chat to several of the poets, quite possibly committing more of the faux pas that I’m renowned for. Bugger :}
One weird thing, though – there were two odd guys pottering around the venue throughout the performance with video cameras; one, accompanied by an obscenely bright light, had no idea what he was seeing. The spoken word performances left him completely bemused.
And that makes me laugh. And, hence, happy.